Before I start bleating on about methods to gain a larger audience for your site…I just wanted to point out my “micro-podcast” left hand panel on my site, click on it to subscribe via itunes – it will be full of things about my life, marketing tips, design influences and other exciting tit bits. Brought to you via Audioboo another great little iphone app. Now the advertising bit is out of the way I’ll move on……

Whether you have a new website or one you’ve had for a while, to gain more visitors and encourage repeat visits you will need to regularly promote and update it in order to build your audience, generate leads and ideally sales.

This month I will highlight some methods you can implement to gain a larger audience for your site:

Announce your site updates, latest news and special offers with the Magma newsletter engine by Strike Designs

(sorry big plug there)

When you launch a new site or every time you make a noteworthy change, add a new offer, product or feature to your site, it is recommended that you email a relevant list of contacts informing them of the benefits of visiting your site.

You could generate an opt-in subscription to an email newsletter through your site and use this to promote your new additions and special offers. There are plenty of services out there that will provide this functionality including our Magma Email Newsletter Engine.

Make your site search engine friendly

So I covered how to get the most from search engines previously, but here’s a quick recap.

To ensure you are getting the highest possible, natural placement within search engine results:

* Use intelligent titles and meta information.
* Offer great content, keeping your desired target audience in mind.
* Acquire high quality links (more about this below).
* Ensure the code that your site is built from is optimised and accessible to search engine spiders.
* Submit site maps (specifically to Google).
* Keep content fresh and updated regularly.

Ensuring your site is at its best in terms of search engine placement and visibility will go a long way to keeping your traffic levels up and if it’s done well, your visitors will closely match your ideal target audience.

Link exchanges

Another method to boost your search engine ranking, promote your site and increase traffic is to link exchange with other businesses. Ideally, any company you link exchange with will dedicate a whole page to your site, containing high quality keywords and phrases relevant to your business.

The sites you exchange links with should also compliment your business. For example if you’re a wedding planner you could source link exchange partners that sell wedding cakes, jewellery, flowers, etc. By doing this, not only will you generate more quality traffic coming from your link exchange partners but your website will become a valuable resource for your visitors, providing them with relevant information they need and encouraging them to return regularly.

Email signatures and stationery

All emails you send out should have an email signature or be contained within a well designed stationery template that can be used to publicise your business and promote your company identity. Your email signatures and stationery should contain your company’s brand elements, such as your logo, colour scheming and key company messages. Also include all the available details of contacting you, including your website address, your name, phone and fax numbers, addresses, etc.

It’s just as important to ensure you promote your website off-line. Places to think about including your site’s address include:

* Letterheads,
* business cards,
* flyers,
* brochures and catalogues,
* labels and packaging,
* merchandise bags,
* invoices and compliment slips,
* fax headers,
* company vehicles or staff uniforms / name badges,
* display units, posters and banners.

You can track the success of your off-line links by using addresses unique to your marketing materials and business stationery (ie: www.yourdomain.com/promo ) and then use website analysis tools such as Google analytics to monitor the popularity of these pages.

Publish yourself and your business online with blogs

Blogs provide a great way for you to communicate with your customers, directly on a regular basis and help you portray yourself and/or your company as experts in your field.

Publish relevant information in your blog such as articles, media releases, industry news, surveys, etc. As well as promoting your site, your blog can help you gain feedback from your customers. Creating a blog, especially on a separate domain will also help you increase your search engine rankings (providing you provide plenty of quality link backs to your site and your blog’s content is directly relevant to the page you are linking it to).

There are plenty of free options for setting up and maintaining your blog. One of our favourites is WordPress. Practising what we preach we will shortly be launching our own blog, so watch this space!

Other methods you may consider for publishing yourself online are on social networks such as myspace, facebook and twitter, or there are other options such as creating TV shows via youtube, podcasts or slideshows at slideshare.net. Remember to ensure you have links back to your site from these pages.